View Full Version : Spacecraft to travel ‘interplanetary superhighway’

2005-Jul-18, 03:51 PM
Spacecraft to travel ‘interplanetary superhighway’ (http://www.newscientistspace.com/article/dn7685-spacecraft-to-travel-interplanetary-superhighway.html)

Two small aerospace companies are developing a 100-kilogram spacecraft to fly to a point where the gravitational pulls of the Earth and Moon balance each other. If NASA approves the second phase of the project, the craft will be launched in 2008 to test an inexpensive, low-energy route to space called the "interplanetary superhighway".

SpaceDev of Poway, California, US, and Andrews Space of Seattle, Washington, US, are developing the tiny spacecraft, called SmallTug. Like the European Space Agency's SMART-1 probe - now in lunar orbit - it would rely on solar-powered electric propulsion, which generates a small, continuous thrust. This highly efficient approach cuts costs dramatically, but takes about a year to reach the Moon on a circuitous, spiral path.